• The Future Of HiFi


    I've been thinking quite a bit, over the last few months, about the future of high quality audio playback. In fact, I'm obsessed with this topic. I was born a music loving audiophile and I worked in enterprise information technology for a decade before starting CA. My passions for both music and technology are converging quickly to provide a better high quality experience. There has never been a better time to be a music aficionado who loves great sound quality and technology. I absolutely love the possibilities and can't wait for some of them to come to fruition. We are no longer limited by technology. The only limiting factor is our imaginations. If we can think it, we can do it.

    In the not to distant future we will be streaming lossless audio, in all relevant sample rates, directly to our main audio components from a Cloud music service provider such as WiMP or Qobuz. Music, playlists, ratings, and favorites will all be stored in the Cloud. Listeners will control playback with iOS and Android apps provided by their streaming service providers. Similar to a UPnP / DLNA control point, the apps will serve as a remote control and library curation and browsing tool. In the same fashion as Google's Cast functionality, no audio will be routed through the iOS or Android device. Music will stream directly to an audio component such as a music server, digital to digital interface converter, or digital to analog converter from the Cloud. Content not available from the streaming service providers can be uploaded, purchased elsewhere, and made available for streaming with simple in app authentication, or located on one's local network attached storage device. There are a couple products capable of very similar functionality right now, namely Sonos, Spotify Connect, and the Auralic Aries / Lightning platform, but there are major differences between where we are now and where we are headed. Only lossless CD quality streaming audio will be available in the short term. During this time, high resolution content will still be purchased through traditional outlets such as HDtracks, Acoustic Sounds, and the PonoMusic store.







    Past = Purchase | Present = Purchase / Subscription Hybrid | Future = Subscription


    Where We Are Now


    There's no need to discuss the traditional music purchasing model where consumers purchase a vinyl album or Compact Disc or download. That's the past. We all lived through it and understand the concept. I feel the same way about meteorologists discussing the weather on the 10/11 p.m. news. There's no need to cover the current day's weather. We all experienced it firsthand.

    Currently most computer audiophiles store their lossless music on a turnkey server such as an Aurender or Meridian Sooloos, or on internal hard drives, external USB / FireWire / Thunderbolt hard drives, and NAS devices. Audio is either sent over USB or Ethernet to a digital to analog converter (DAC) and on to the rest of the system. Music is purchased on physical disc and ripped or music is purchased and downloaded. Music playback and library curation is done with either a keyboard, mouse, and monitor combination or through an iOS / Android device. Some users rely on subscription services like Spotify or Beats to stream lossy 320 kbps music to iOS or Android devices for music discovery and convenience. This is a hybrid purchase / subscription model where the purchased music is lossless and the subscription music is lossy.



    Where We Are Going


    One thing that holds true for the future of HiFi playback is the number of options will continue to grow. There is no single solution to satisfy everyone all the time. My view of where we are going with the future of HiFi is based on a combination of my own research and my own wants / needs. The major changes coming to HiFi are all related to the declining lossless purchasing model in favor of a growing lossless subscription model. As subscription based listening expands, the need for local music storage contracts. In addition, when music storage is in the Cloud (subscription model) the apps used to control playback and curation of one's library may be provided by the Cloud music subscription service provider. Thus, where we store music and how we select music for playback will be dependent on a purchase or subscription model of music consumption.

    With the aforementioned ideas in mind, here is the future of high quality music playback.

    1. Music is obtained through the subscription model.
    2. All music is stored in the Cloud.
      1. This includes the user's music that's unavailable directly through a subscription service such as little Jonny's piano recital recorded with an iPhone from row thirty-five in the school gymnasium.
      2. Until all content can be stored in the Cloud a hybrid approach will be required. This will enable users to stream from the Cloud and a local NAS or USB drive.

    3. All music is lossless CD quality or better.
    4. Most custom HiFi apps are out, subscription service provider apps are in.
      1. Browsing one's library, selection of tracks for playback, and curating one's library is done through the music subscription service provider's iOS / Android app.
      2. HiFi companies can't keep up with the quality of subscription service provider's apps. WiMP has editorial teams in each country to deliver appropriate content via its app to end users. For example, one feature found in WiMP's Android app enables users to browse through its catalog and press & hold a track for additional information. This information includes metadata such as Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Mix Engineer, and Mastering Engineer, among others. The next version of WiMP's Android application will include an extension of this feature and enable users to select an item such as the Mastering Engineer's name. Once selected, all music in the WiMP catalog mastered by the Engineer will appear in the app. This functionality isn't too complex for HiFi companies to include within their own applications, but it's just a single example of a subscription service provider's constant improvement to stay ahead of the competition. Plus, WiMP is but one of the many companies offering streaming subscriptions to the HiFi market. Traditional HiFi companies can't keep updating their apps for every service provider's platform, let alone write the initial app for all the APIs (application programming interface). Every company has limited skill sets and resources. Most HiFi companies are better off sticking to HiFi components rather than iOS / Android design.

    5. All music is sent directly from the Cloud to a HiFi component without traversing through the remote control iOS or Android device.
      1. AirPlay is dead. Streaming through one's iPhone eats up too much battery and depends on the state of the iPhone to continue playback.
      2. Using Google's Cast type functionality enables the remote control to be in any state, including turned off, and the music remains playing as instructed previously by the user.
      3. A small Raspberry Pi or similar device can be used to connect the Cloud with HiFi components.

    6. The only computers involved will be the remote control running Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating systems and the audio component receiving the streaming content (likely running Linux).

    No solution exists today that addresses all of the aforementioned items. However, some of the items are available in limited form in a limited number of countries right now. The key to all of this is integration with HiFi companies and components. In the portable listening environment one can already stream and download lossless CD quality music to an iPhone or Android device. This is due to the simplicity of the environment. The music is, for all intents and purposes, meant to stay on the portable device. Integration with HiFi components is much trickier, but it's the key to lossless streaming adoption. Currently I can stream lossless CD quality with a computer running WiMP connected via USB to my main audio system or through a Sonos Connect wired to my main system. The problem with these partial solutions is that they have major weaknesses. I don't want a keyboard, mouse and monitor to play music because there's no remote for controlling the OS X WiMP app and there never will be such a remote, it doesn't make sense. Sonos can stream lossless music from WiMP but the Sonos iOS app isn't nearly as good as the native WiMP application. The hybrid solution that will take us to the next level will combine the local music library access of the Sonos app with the advanced features of the native WiMP app and Google Cast type functionality to stream music directly to the HiFi system. To a certain extent this would be like a Meridian Sooloos, which has had the most advanced metadata and navigation in the HiFi industry for many years, with music stored in the Cloud.

    Bridging the gap between the present and the future are products like the Auralic Aries. The term bridging the gap commonly refers to a temporary solution. However, the Aries will likely be the end game for many HiFi enthusiasts. The Aries and its Lightning iOS app enables access to a local UPnP / DLNA server content and the ability to browse & search Cloud content from WiMP and Qobuz. This concept is the reverse of my dream scenario of using the WiMP app with local access because the Lightning app focusses on local content with a Cloud content add-on. Even though the Lightning concept is reverse of my preference, this doesn't mean the app has problems. It's still terrific. Missing in the Lightning app are advanced metadata features for Cloud music, geo-targeted editorial content from WiMP, and a few other very minor items. The Sonos WiMP integration, as mentioned above, has more friction than I like. Meaning, it isn't a smooth experience because Sonos wants its users to create "Sonos Favorites & Playlists" and "Sonos Everything" rather than just creating favorites within WiMP that are available in any WiMP interface. Sonos must function the way it does due to its integration model and the fact it seeks to be the single interface for music playback. Enabling Sonos Playlists allows users to integrate WiMP content and local content into a single playlist. It's a really cool feature, but not a feature I use frequently. I much prefer my playlists be available everywhere through the WiMP app as that's my end game playback concept.

    Spotify Connect is the closest thing to my ideal concept in that it enables users to use the Spotify iOS app and send audio directly from the Cloud to an audio device without routing through the iOS device. Spotify playlists are all stored in the Cloud and available on all devices capable of Spotify playback. Some HiFi components like BlueSound are Spotify Connect enabled. However, the big show stopper is that Spotify is lossy. Spotify doesn't offer CD quality lossless streaming or downloads. Without the same, or better, quality as my local collection or WiMP, I'm not willing to use Spotify for this very convenient feature.

    iTunes users are likely interested in how AirPlay competes in this future of HiFi playback. In AirPlay's current state it just can’t compete. Routing music through a mobile device for playback on a HiFi system doesn't make sense, unless it's for casual group playback with friends. AirPlay diminishes battery life, requires the iOS device to be on or in a certain state, requires open source "hacked" software or Apple certification, and is as closed as any platform available today. AirPlay is dead without a serious overhaul.



    Conclusion


    We've been through the worst of times with the transition of mainstream playback from lossless CD quality to lossy MP3 quality. It's finally time to bring back lossless CD quality and move studio master quality from the class market to the mass market. Technology is no longer a barrier to great HiFi playback. Access to more music than Joe Sixpack could ever store at home, all in CD quality or better, is a HiFI and music aficionado's dream. Much of this dream is either a reality now or will soon be a reality for many listeners around the world. Services such as WiMP and Qobuz are strongly rumored to be coming to America and other countries this fall (2014). A few years ago listeners switching from physical Compact Discs to file based playback were overjoyed with access to their complete music collections at their fingertips. In a few months these listeners should be blown away with access to over 20 million lossless tracks for the price of purchasing a couple albums. Soon the traditional HiFi manufacturers and audio engineers can get back to what they do best, design the best performing audio gear in the world, rather than attempt to enter the realm of Apple and mobile app designers. Everyone has a speciality. Letting software developers employed by companies like WiMP lead the application charge while HiFi legends stick to bringing us better sound quality will spring our wonderful hobby into the future sooner rather than later. There has never been a more exciting time to love great music and great sound quality.






    Links

    WiMP
    Qobuz
    Sonos
    Spotify
    Aurender
    Meridian Sooloos
    Auralic
    HDtracks
    Acoustic Sounds
    PonoMusic
    Beats

















    Comments 129 Comments
    1. InfernoSTi's Avatar
      InfernoSTi -
      Chris,

      I suspect there are two types of readers of this column: those who feel some degree of fear at the loss of physical control of their collection, something that defines who they are in terms of what they chose to own, and those who feel some degree of freedom at the loss of physical control of their collection, something that restrains them from their passion in an ever less attached life style. Perhaps there are those of us who feel both at the same time...

      This is a great time for audio...the future has never been more exciting!

      Best,
      John
    1. new_media's Avatar
      new_media -
      Spot on John, some of both for me.

      I try to buy lossless downloads when I can to save physical space, but there are still certain artists and albums that I "need" as part of my physical collection.

      Regarding AirPlay streaming, Chris, I am able to stream my iTunes Match cloud library directly to an Apple TV connected to my main system via optical digital. In this case I can use my iPhone as a remote without the data being routed through the phone. Of course, iTunes Match is limited to lossy streaming for now.
    1. Kelly's Avatar
      Kelly -
      Any teasers on when we will get WiMP in the US?
    1. woodford's Avatar
      woodford -
      surprised at the short shrift given Bluesound- it does basically everything you've outlined, includes WiMP, Qobuz, HiRes Audio, Spotify connect, and soon HDTracks. it's also capable of 24/192 sound (unlike Sonos).

      and i realize it's EOL, but the Squeezebox ecosystem can also accomplish most of this, particularly with it's strong 3rd party plugin support. as i write, i'm listening to Qobuz streamed losslessly to my Transporter, controlled from an iPad.

      10 years into it's life, the Transporter is still the coolest, most extensible, digital media interface on the market, and it sounds wonderful.
    1. wappinghigh's Avatar
      wappinghigh -
      Was Pandora mentioned? That's the future of audio IMO.... just think what it will be like if/ when Pandora and all these streaming services can stream hirez where appropriate to say a 24/192 Dac, and automatically pick up and stream the same playlist etcetc to a low res interface like an iPhone. So you just pick up where you left off... Even let's say they did all this at the same time to give you multidevice, multi room: simultaneously ... No need then for Sonos or Bluesound even... The user would just do it all within the Pandora app....
    1. wappinghigh's Avatar
      wappinghigh -
      If you haven't tried the higher Rez paid for version of Pandora, you are missing out something truly special. This has been the no 1 life changing music thing that's happened for me the last couple years ...
    1. Skeptic's Avatar
      Skeptic -
      I don't know that streaming will take over for all of us.

      • Many connections are now having data caps applied, which is problematic if all your media is streamed.
      • My internet connection goes out at least once a month, so I'd be without any music (or video) if I relied on streaming services.
      • I don't necessarily want a single company keeping track of everything I listen to or watch.
      • Quality has to improve first. I'd need lossless 16/44 before I even considered paying for one of these services.
      • One of the biggest issues is that licensing deals are always changing, so access to content can be removed at any time.


      I think you are very optimistic if you think that there are going to be streaming services for high res audio.
      I don't know that the labels would be happy with it (if not high res, then what can they sell you?) and bandwidth starts to become a problem.
      I don't know that there's much of a market for it either. Most people seem happy with the 160k MP3 or whatever it is that Spotify stream for free.

      Another thing - sometimes I'm in a location where I simply don't get data access on my phone, or at least not enough to stream high quality music. When I travel, data can become prohibitively expensive.
      If you're only subscribed to a streaming service, you don't have a library of portable music.

      Oh, and if you live outside the States, good luck!


      And FYI, you can play to AirPlay devices directly from a Mac or from a PC running Airfoil, controlled by an iOS device rather than playing from one.

      I use JRemote (as a control device) to send audio from my JRiver library to AirPlay devices all the time.
      The Airfoil Remote app lets me dynamically link/unlink AirPlay devices (all perfectly in sync) and independently control volume for each.

      Guests are also able to play to these devices from their phones, but 90% of the time it ends up being easier to simply hook up a 3.5mm cable instead.
    1. bottlerocket's Avatar
      bottlerocket -
      What we can do and what we want to do are sometimes different. I am not a fan of subscriptions of any kind. If music is going the way of cable TV with ever increasing charges and ever increasing useless content, count me out.

      I still like collecting too. What about showing off your music collection?

      I am not disagreeing with your summary. I think it is correct. But, I'll probably be a hold out for the Past or Present models.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Skeptic - Thanks for raising a quite a few points. Let me address them as best I can.




      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      I don't know that streaming will take over for all of us.

      • Many connections are now having data caps applied, which is problematic if all your media is streamed.


      Data caps can be an issue. In the future deals will be made by content providers and ISPs to work around these caps. The caps in place now may be there as an incentive for companies like Netflix to pay Comcast for its data to not be counted toward the caps. Netflix has already paid Comcast for more bandwidth for its customers.




      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post

      • My internet connection goes out at least once a month, so I'd be without any music (or video) if I relied on streaming services.


      Very good point. I would like to see data for more users than just you (no offense please) to see if this is typical and if the times it goes out are times when listening must take place. I tend to minimize this issue as we are not talking about a life support system going out, rather music playback. Television has been this way since the beginning.







      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      • I don't necessarily want a single company keeping track of everything I listen to or watch.

      Most people seem OK with allowing their ISPs to know everything they do online, their cable or satellite providers to know everything they watch, and some may not even know they are receiving targeted advertisements through digital cable now. It will be interesting when people start to talk on the phone or via text when watching the same program and see different commercials even though they live in the same neighborhood. On the music side, Sonos knows everything its customers listen to and keeps a gigantic database of all this activity. Sonos is a data driven company.





      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      • Quality has to improve first. I'd need lossless 16/44 before I even considered paying for one of these services.


      16/44 lossless is available in some European countries and will be here in the US this fall. I agree, lossless is absolutely critical to adoption when supplementing one's physical library.





      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      • One of the biggest issues is that licensing deals are always changing, so access to content can be removed at any time.


      Very true.




      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      I think you are very optimistic if you think that there are going to be streaming services for high res audio.
      I know of two services who have tested high resolution streaming, 24/192 and DSD, without any issues. If people are willing to pay for it, the companies will sell it.







      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      I don't know that the labels would be happy with it (if not high res, then what can they sell you?) and bandwidth starts to become a problem.
      Labels are selling it to you via subscription. The subscriptions to lossless services are double the cost of lossy subscriptions. Thus, in the typical 70/30 split where rights holders receive 70% of the money, rights holders receive twice as much as the lossy services. (70% of 30$ per month is better than 70% of $10 per month). Artists are catching on to this and appear to show more interest.






      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      I don't know that there's much of a market for it either. Most people seem happy with the 160k MP3 or whatever it is that Spotify stream for free.
      Whether there's a market or not it's coming. The services offer standard 320k MP3 and HiFi lossless. Customers can select whatever they want to pay for.






      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      Another thing - sometimes I'm in a location where I simply don't get data access on my phone, or at least not enough to stream high quality music. When I travel, data can become prohibitively expensive.
      If you're only subscribed to a streaming service, you don't have a library of portable music.
      This is a common misunderstanding with the streaming services. The traditional way, people would synchronize music to their phones so they had it on location or in the airplane. With streaming services you can do the same thing. WiMP allows customers to download music to the phone for offline access. I have 25GB of WiMP lossless music on my phone right now. Plus, when I'm in an airport and I see a new release I want I can download it via the airport WiFi before taking off. This isn't possible with the traditional way.






      Quote Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
      Oh, and if you live outside the States, good luck!
      Outside the US is actually much better on many levels. A handful of European countries already have this lossless service. Plus, Internet speeds outside the US are fantastic in many countries. I was in South Korea last year and even the mobile speeds are better than most of my friend's home internet connections. Sure, there will be issues in some places but it's only a matter of time before kinks are worked out.


      Thanks again for raising the issues. You raise great points and questions.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by bottlerocket View Post
      What we can do and what we want to do are sometimes different. I am not a fan of subscriptions of any kind. If music is going the way of cable TV with ever increasing charges and ever increasing useless content, count me out.

      I still like collecting too. What about showing off your music collection?

      I am not disagreeing with your summary. I think it is correct. But, I'll probably be a hold out for the Past or Present models.
      Hi bottlerocket - I think you are in a group with a large percentage of people. There's obviously nothing wrong with either way of obtaining our favorite music.

      In terms of collecting, I too like to collect. Inadvertently I've started to collect other items now that I don't purchase many physical discs. I've started collecting rare concert posters for Pear Jam and other really neat items. Maybe people will shift to collecting other items like me or maybe not. No right or wrong way :~)

      P.S. We should also look at this streaming stuff as a supplement to our existing music habbits rather than a replacement, at least for the time being :~)
    1. Paul R's Avatar
      Paul R -
      Well written and well thought out.

      I would suggest that the technology is not quite up to the task yet, given we are just now really beginning to understand Big Data and all the implications thereof. It is possible there will be several technology advances before things all come together.

      For example - Lossless compression at 1000:1 or better would really enable hi-res content to be skittered about over the web. It's coming. A 90min highdef video delivered to local buffer storage in only a second or two would make an incredible difference.

      Then politics and economics gets into the picture too. The fight between 20th century Cable Companies as ISPs and what consumers today really want. I think your idea that data caps are being used a blundgeons to extract danegeld from companies like NetFlix and Apple is spot on and exactly so. Google, or more likely some amalgation of companies like Google, Apple, NetFlix, and so on could decide to eliminate the cable companies. That would be an interesting war to watch.



      -Paul
    1. Deyorew's Avatar
      Deyorew -
      While I can't say none of what the article suggests will not happen....I think most of it will....I can say I don't think its my preference.
      While I do enjoy high quality playback and convenience, I cherish my physical collection much more. With the constant releases from audiophile labels like Mobile Fidelity, Audio Fidelity and Analogue Productions which all seem to be getting more and more product out there, I have never lacked for quality physical product. In fact I have never even purchased an audio download from any of the services or stores mentioned.

      I was always an album person instead of a radio person. These monthly subscription services are more like radio to me. And while I can appreciate it appeals to the masses, it doesn't necessarily appeal to all audiophiles...most of whom cherish their physical collection as much as I do.

      I am 37 and enjoy buying vinyl and cds more than ever. I am guessing there will be a market for me for the rest of my life, if only through used markets and after market companies manufacturing physical product for the folks like me that would rather spend my money that way than subscription services or access to streaming.

      A complete disconnect from physical media and my primary means of acquiring and listening to music will never happen and I am not even considered an old timer...


      This is the first Computer Audiophile article I have read that I did not enjoy reading....mostly because it was like reading an obituary for physical product. Something I consider sad/bad news.
    1. loop7's Avatar
      loop7 -
      Realizing this is edge case thinking, a near term or potentially long term condition might be the unfortunate "up to... quality" problem. It's in the best interest for an ISP to under promise and dynamically adjust bandwidth to accommodate local traffic spikes. If we eventually move to complete cloud streams, I would hate for a 24/96 identified stream be downgraded to 16/44 or even 320k.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Deyorew View Post
      While I can't say none of what the article suggests will not happen....I think most of it will....I can say I don't think its my preference.
      While I do enjoy high quality playback and convenience, I cherish my physical collection much more. With the constant releases from audiophile labels like Mobile Fidelity, Audio Fidelity and Analogue Productions which all seem to be getting more and more product out there, I have never lacked for quality physical product. In fact I have never even purchased an audio download from any of the services or stores mentioned.

      I was always an album person instead of a radio person. These monthly subscription services are more like radio to me. And while I can appreciate it appeals to the masses, it doesn't necessarily appeal to all audiophiles...most of whom cherish their physical collection as much as I do.

      I am 37 and enjoy buying vinyl and cds more than ever. I am guessing there will be a market for me for the rest of my life, if only through used markets and after market companies manufacturing physical product for the folks like me that would rather spend my money that way than subscription services or access to streaming.

      A complete disconnect from physical media and my primary means of acquiring and listening to music will never happen and I am not even considered an old timer...


      This is the first Computer Audiophile article I have read that I did not enjoy reading....mostly because it was like reading an obituary for physical product. Something I consider sad/bad news.
      Thanks for the insightful comments. Interesting to read you and I are about the same age.
    1. TimArruda's Avatar
      TimArruda -
      Interesting article Chris. I would tend to agree that things are moving in that direction. I won't be moving with them. I do have a subscription, to the Music Matters Jazz Blue Note series on vinyl. Count me firmly in the ownership camp. I have no desire whatsoever to have access to music solely as long as my subscription is current. There is no way I will be storing my music in the cloud, and I'm not ok with my ISP knowing everything I do online, never mind anyone else. I realize I may be in the minority, and that minority may be growing smaller every day, but I *like* my physical LP's and CD's. I much prefer reading a physical book to an electronic facsimile. I have bought downloads, and have many that sound fantastic. For me though, even when it does sound good, there is something missing. I just don't find it as satisfying to have my music as a file stored away either on a local hard drive or in the cloud. Music, for me, is more than just the actual music. It's the music, it is the artwork and liner notes that go with it. It's the LP that has been around for 40 years or more, with someone's name written on the back of the album cover that still somehow manages to sound fantastic. There is a history to a physical object that is part of it for me. I also really value buying used music, whether CD or vinyl, and also being able to sell those albums which I no longer value enough to keep. I'll be damned if I'm going to allow Amazon, music publishers, or whomever to decide what I can do with my music. I fully recognize this goes hand in hand with the ownership model, and not the subscription model.

      What is interesting to me, is that I initially got into computer audio as I got sick and tired of racks of CD's being in my living room and wanted at least to move them somewhere else while still being able to listen to them conveniently. Over time, I've come around full circle (or mostly I suppose) on this idea. I'm not complaining though. I have no doubt there will be no shortage of LP's and CD's, both used and new for me to buy and more music available than I will listen to in my lifetime. Who knows, it's certainly possible I'll come full circle again and someday get rid of all my physical music and jump on the streaming bandwagon. Time will tell I suppose.
    1. DigiPete's Avatar
      DigiPete -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul.Raulerson View Post
      . . .
      I would suggest that the technology is not quite up to the task yet, given we are just now really beginning to understand Big Data and all the implications thereof.
      It is possible there will be several technology advances before things all come together.
      . . .


      Technology is fine.
      Just move to a tech hub in the US and you can have it as well.

      I am on a 4G router, and I just tested my bandwidth:

      28024 kbit/s down
      12733 kbit/s up
      Ping 27 ms

      That means that I can stream:

      25 / 192 in 5.1 surround without breaking a sweat.

      My iPhone will easily stream 24/192 as it clocked 18/10 right here in my living room.


      I do propose wired service for streaming ;-)
    1. coot's Avatar
      coot -
      Interesting article Chris. I would tend to agree that things are moving in that direction. I won't be moving with them. I do have a subscription, to the Music Matters Jazz Blue Note series on vinyl. Count me firmly in the ownership camp. I have no desire whatsoever to have access to music solely as long as my subscription is current. There is no way I will be storing my music in the cloud, and I'm not ok with my ISP knowing everything I do online, never mind anyone else. I realize I may be in the minority, and that minority may be growing smaller every day, but I *like* my physical LP's and CD's. I much prefer reading a physical book to an electronic facsimile. I have bought downloads, and have many that sound fantastic. For me though, even when it does sound good, there is something missing. I just don't find it as satisfying to have my music as a file stored away either on a local hard drive or in the cloud. Music, for me, is more than just the actual music. It's the music, it is the artwork and liner notes that go with it. It's the LP that has been around for 40 years or more, with someone's name written on the back of the album cover that still somehow manages to sound fantastic. There is a history to a physical object that is part of it for me. I also really value buying used music, whether CD or vinyl, and also being able to sell those albums which I no longer value enough to keep. I'll be damned if I'm going to allow Amazon, music publishers, or whomever to decide what I can do with my music. I fully recognize this goes hand in hand with the ownership model, and not the subscription model.

      What is interesting to me, is that I initially got into computer audio as I got sick and tired of racks of CD's being in my living room and wanted at least to move them somewhere else while still being able to listen to them conveniently. Over time, I've come around full circle (or mostly I suppose) on this idea. I'm not complaining though. I have no doubt there will be no shortage of LP's and CD's, both used and new for me to buy and more music available than I will listen to in my lifetime. Who knows, it's certainly possible I'll come full circle again and someday get rid of all my physical music and jump on the streaming bandwagon. Time will tell I suppose.
      Couldn'ta said it better!
    1. james45974's Avatar
      james45974 -
      Streaming is a no-go for me. I am still dealing with crummy satellite internet, having no access to cable, dsl, fiber, or 4G at my house, which is not out in the boonies, only 2 miles from "civilization" at I-90, 3 miles from the largest branch campus of Penn State. The internet utility companies are spending near nothing for internet infrastructure, only milking their current customers for more revenue. Also, I would really have to think hard about another monthly bill, fee, subscription, call it what you want, it seems like many things on the internet (and frankly many things in life these days) are something to be monetized with a monthly fee, it's like being pecked to death by sparrows!
    1. Ajax's Avatar
      Ajax -
      Hi Chris,

      Great article and informative as always ... CA is my "go to" source for anything audio related.

      I love what digital has done to increase my listening pleasure but a long way to go before we get lossless streaming in Australia where we have traditionally paid a lot more for CDs as the record companies (and car manufactures) continue to protect their patch and take advantage of our distance from the rest of the Western world.

      We have recently just got Spotify and at 320kps it is acceptable IMO browsing and casual playback sbut still use HD Tracks (via proxy as can't get Aus subscription for reasons stated above) and ripping CDs for serious listening.

      We also have very slow internet broadband speeds via ADSL of about 7 Mps (about 1/4 of US speeds when compared to digi pete's 28Mps above) although we do now have greatly improved mobile 4G which is more like 15Mps but only in the major cities. We are in the process of installing a national optical broadband service promising speeds in excess of 100Mps but it is being stalled by politics.

      Keep up the great work!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ajax View Post
      Hi Chris,

      Great article and informative as always ... CA is my "go to" source for anything audio related.

      I love what digital has done to increase my listening pleasure but a long way to go before we get lossless streaming in Australia where we have traditionally paid a lot more for CDs as the record companies (and car manufactures) continue to protect their patch and take advantage of our distance from the rest of the Western world.

      We have recently just got Spotify and at 320kps it is acceptable IMO browsing and casual playback sbut still use HD Tracks (via proxy as can't get Aus subscription for reasons stated above) and ripping CDs for serious listening.

      We also have very slow internet broadband speeds via ADSL of about 7 Mps (about 1/4 of US speeds when compared to digi pete's 28Mps above) although we do now have greatly improved mobile 4G which is more like 15Mps but only in the major cities. We are in the process of installing a national optical broadband service promising speeds in excess of 100Mps but it is being stalled by politics.

      Keep up the great work!
      Thanks for the kind words.